Pakistan in Bangladesh 2011-12 December 8, 2011

Tamim must unclutter his mind

Bangladesh need Tamim Iqbal to fire at the top of the order, and for that to happen, the team management need to help him sort out whatever's irking him

It is now common knowledge that Bangladesh's success as a team is closely linked to the fortunes of its batsmen. If a couple of them are among the runs, they win games and have a certain swagger; when the well is dry, the whole team is off its game. Hardly a coincidence, then, that Bangladesh's struggles against Pakistan come at a time when their best player, Tamim Iqbal, is going through a drought.

Tamim's failure means the No. 3 is in too quickly and the middle-order takes too much time to settle down. The last 50-plus opening stand was in Zimbabwe in August - 14 innings ago. The best against Pakistan so far has been a meagre eight, by four different pair of openers rotated between Tamim, the woefully out-of-form Imrul Kayes, Shahriar Nafees and Naeem Islam.

Tamim's batting of late has belied his experience and his record against the best attacks. In his innings of 0, 4 and 0 against the Pakistan opening attack of Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul, Tamim has been caught on the crease, feet hardly moving or going down the wrong angle. When Gul offered him a freebie miles outside off-stump in the second ODI, Tamim under-edged the ball into a baffled second slip's lap.

Faruque Ahmed, the former chief selector and the man who pushed Tamim from age-group cricket into the national setup, is convinced that there is hardly any let-up in intensity but concedes the need for a quiet word.

"I follow what he does and he still works hard on his batting skills, be it from the [bowling] machine, the nets or just hitting balls," he said. "There's Habibul Bashar in the selection panel along with two very experienced former captains, Akram Khan and Minhajul Abedin. Habibul has dealt with Tamim as a captain so I think a talk between the two could sort things out."

"I just think someone within the team management should have a talk with him soon, before his problems slip deeper," Faruque said. "Sometimes the best cannot come from a player if he's not satisfied with what's [going on] around him. Plus he's not a 30-year-old guy. He's just 22, so one has to manage him."

Tamim's batting mentor, Mohammad Salahuddin, suggests that a changed game plan has added to the pressure around the batsman.

"He had this attitude going for him; he was aggressive and tried to dominate bowlers from the start, but he has changed this," Salahuddin, who is the former Bangladesh fielding coach, said. "He now wants to take his time, stay in for longer periods. I think he shouldn't have made this change.

"Not everyone is Shakib [Al Hasan]. Whatever happens, Shakib doesn't let it bother him on the field. There's a lot of pressure on these guys, and it sometimes boils over and the media has a role here too."

Zimbabwe is where trouble began for Tamim. After a World Cup campaign that had its share of controversies circling Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim opened his mouth at the wrong time in Zimbabwe. It didn't help when he continuously got out to Brian Vitori, the bowler he called "ordinary" or allegedly argued with the coach. Upon return, the vice-captaincy was taken away and it was always a matter of concern how he would react.

'Tamim has to understand that to be remembered, he has to play well for a long, long time.'
Faruque Ahmed, Bangladesh's former chief selector

"He [Tamim] said something in Zimbabwe [about the hosts' bowlers] and it was dragged on for a long time," Salahuddin said. "Some people have to help him and it should come from the team management. How the coach deals with him, that's also worth seeing."

Following that tour, he batted reasonably against West Indies but in the second innings of the second Test, with the game on the line on the final day, Tamim played a horrible shot in the 80s. The shot led to ridicule, upsetting Tamim no end. After picking up a knee injury during a camp in Chittagong last month, the left-hand batsman didn't play the Twenty20 against Pakistan. The lack of information from the team's medical staff led to rumours, which were compounded by the board president checking out the injured knee during the introductions at the start of the game.

It was done in jest, but it touched a nerve and many questioned whether Tamim - a man who had batted with a busted wrist for close to six months in 2010 - was fully committed. While Salahuddin mentions pressure, it is also true that Tamim had to change his approach because he was beginning to be found out by bowling attacks, just like he was stopped from charging fast bowlers after his attack on India at the Queen's Park Oval in 2007.

Zimbabwe certainly tested his patience with the short ball close to his body, when the odd word didn't work. West Indies did the same, and as he batted against Hafeez and Gul with shattered confidence, he became a cheap wicket, something Bangladesh can't deal with at the moment.

Faruque, who is also a former national captain, is an important voice in Bangladesh cricket especially due to his track record as a selector. It appears that he doesn't want Tamim to be yet another cautionary tale for the next generation, rather than become the country's first great batsman.

Bangladesh's short history is filled with batsmen who have impressed at the beginning but faded away as the pressure rose and the expectations swelled. Come Friday, Tamim will take the field with the man who typifies "wasted talent", Mohammad Ashraful.

"I would tell Tamim that you don't become great by just a season or two of good form," Faruque said. "'Flash in the pan' cricketers are all over Bangladesh. He has to understand that to be remembered, he has to play well for a long, long time."

Tamim is no stranger to a run of poor form. It took him meticulous preparation for almost two years to become the batsman he is today. There was one period after that India game that Tamim went 11 innings without a half-century in international cricket.

If he can get out of that rut, this is theoretically easier. The recipe is not just a lot of hard work to prove a point, but an uncluttered mind that reignites his hunger for runs. It would augur well for the team too.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 9, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Bangladesh needs a Rajnikant ....their batsmen are still flirting with their batting skills while some of them are trying their hand at spin, after all that can earn them a few more tests.

  • Dummy4 on December 9, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    ICC should remove the Test status of Bangladesh. They never come good in Test.

  • Dummy4 on December 9, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Bangladesh team seriously need to think about the coach. Stuart Law doesnt seem a good coach. Even Sri Lankan Cricket team fired him.. Jammie Siddons is the only right choice at this moment.. Please bring back Jammie Siddons ..

  • Javed on December 9, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    Tamim should perform well, otherwise he should give opportunity to other young players. I'm not sure, why selectors didn't even think about Kamrul Islam Rabbi, a young fast bowler, who is consistently performing in domestic and international level. He did really good in recent West indies tour of Bangladesh A team.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 23:06 GMT

    muhammed haffez has been out clasing tamim .. there is no problem with himm ..hafeez ended devon smiths good form after he scored a 100 in wc>> hafeez has been the main reason y tamim hasnt been able to make runs ..theres no other problem

  • Sami on December 8, 2011, 20:09 GMT

    Not only Tamim, Bangladesh need to come out of that "relying on a single batsman" well. It's time they stood up as a unit and actually scored runs, as a Pakistani supporter, I was glad that Pakistan won both ODI and T20 series but I didn't enjoy it as much as Pak v SL, where Pak won from unimaginable situations, if your Team wins with great difficulty, it's a good thing, but if the opposition just comes into every match with no intent of fighting, it renders a win (by your nation) sided matches need to end and NOW. Get up Bangladesh! Wake up from your slumber and put up a FIGHT! I want this Tour to end on a high with both teams fighting neck to neck!!

  • Salman on December 8, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    BD should make batting friendly wickets for the tests. when their batsmen stay on the wicket for som etime that will give them confidence, which will help them in future also. winning is not that important for BD now. fighting is important.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    tamim you a talent batsmen...everyone know it.why u try to prove should take every thing easy. if you thing that you need time ok do it.if you thing short every ball ,ok do it..what your mind want.? you should fulfill your mind demand...

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    My dear Taaaamiiiim don't worry, just concentrate your game. All Bangladeshi people loves you. When you played in County, a match against Northampton i went all the way from Germany to see you & your Dashing Batting, bcs i love to see your Batting. You are the Pride of our Country like Shakib. It was so kind of you to meet & took a photo with me. we r very much proud of you, Hit Tamim like Tamim.....

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 16:48 GMT

    The only good to come from Bangladesh cricket. BD lack the bowlers, they can't be competitive without decent quicks. I reckon Afghanistan would do a better job if given the funds, they have very capable bowlers. Anyway Pakistan whitewash and then onto the England series for the REAL CHALLENGE. By the way Afridi probably bowls faster than BD quicks :P (

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